Mike Ashley pays the price for his Newcastle past
Nearly all the Premier league clubs have made signings but NUFC seem to be having trouble getting new players ‘over the line’.
Still plenty of time to go but instead of ‘hitting the ground running’ as promised by the management, there is now talk of ‘patience’ and ‘getting it right’. Whilst Steve McClaren, in Pardew mode, talks of three transfer windows to get the players he wants.
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What is the problem with our recruitment? Is it because the club has reverted to type with low bids and wages to match, or is it paying the price for past events?
The wider football world has finally woken up to the way that NUFC has been run. For most of the Mike Ashley years, Geordies who complained were seen as upstarts with unrealistic expectations, we ‘did not know our place’. With those ‘Cockney Mafia’ banners reinforcing this view of parochial, deluded fans in our North East bubble. Even the KK tribunal, when the regime was labelled as liars, did not disturb this view.
However, Ashley’s constant dumbing down of the club over the years, with events like the JFK appointment, the Wonga sponsorship, renaming of SJP, the ‘no cups and survival’ for profit policy, but mostly the total lack of investment in the playing squad, has brought the world outside NUFC to realise what is happening at SJP. Those protesting Geordies might just have a point.
In recent years our club seems to be constantly at war; be it battles with fans, dissenting players or the press (unless you are a preferred media partner of course) and this perhaps suggests to potential new recruits that the club is best avoided.
Many pundits have labelled the club a basket case and a poisoned chalice. Some say that Ashley has turned the club into a laughing stock and it’s hard to disagree.
Eventually, out of the so called list of 80 credible candidates, McClaren emerged to take up the challenge, but even he had previously turned us down, twice! The problems he had recruiting an assistant, one of his choices was unemployed, suggests that the club is not the attractive proposition it once was and should be now.
A club with a huge fan base, one of the richest in Europe (despite Pardew constantly telling us we could not compete for signings when he should have said we choose not to compete), a great stadium, a club with huge potential in the right hands.
The club’s reputation under Ashley is such that last year we witnessed Remy Cabella warned away from a move to Newcastle. This window we’ve seen Florian Thauvin told that SJP is no place to be and the Wolfsburg manager Dieter Hecking telling striker Bas Dost that Newcastle would be a bad career move. Of course they all have their own agendas and motives for their warnings but there is no doubt the reputation of the club is at an all-time low.
This brings me to the issue that always dominates Ashley’s ownership of NUFC – money!
In his carefully choreographed ‘interview’, Ashley said he would ‘continue to invest’, which some took as a sign that he intended to plough more money into transfers. Some have accepted the interview at face value but many, made cynical by past events, suggests that it was a ploy to bring dissenters on board and sell season tickets.
It’s now put up or shut up time at NUFC. In the past we have heard that NUFC have been in for this or that player, only to fail with bids when other clubs came calling.
Our rigid policy of putting a strict value on a player and sticking to it (often, I believe, a ruse for not spending) won’t work this window if they genuinely want to make quality signings. We have seen that recently when Swansea signed Andre Ayew, a player we had supposedly admired, tracked and monitored for two years. We chose not to compete.
Also, sell before you buy seems to be the Ashley motto. For example, there are reports of Cisse being hawked around the Premiership. Is this the reason they have not signed a forward?
Most fans feel that we need at least 6 players to be competitive next time round. That will need a lot more than the £25m bandied around by some papers.
If the club wants quality players it will have to do something totally alien to the management. Such is the reputation of the club under Ashley’s tenure, it will not be sufficient to pay the going rate, they will have to pay over the odds in fees and wages to overcome the stigma created by this regime. After all, as Ashley knows, money talks.
It will be the ultimate irony if after all the years of penny pinching that the only solution to sorting the mess we are in, is to overpay to get players through the door.
Will the club do that or, as many suspect, revert to type and follow the failed transfer policies of cheaper imports and bargain buys that have got us into so much trouble in the past and likely do so again?
Either way, Mike Ashley will have to pay the price for past events.
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